31/10/2005

Government to crack down on death driving offences

Tough new offences to deal with drivers who cause death on the roads were announced today by the government.

Tabled as amendments to the government's Road Safety Bill, the new measures will create a new offence of causing death by careless driving, with a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment and one of causing death when driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured, with a penalty of up to two years' imprisonment.

Other measures include defining careless driving in statute and putting beyond doubt that the courts can find defendants guilty of a statutory bad driving offence as an alternative to manslaughter. This would mean those found not guilty of manslaughter do not escape justice altogether if they cause death through bad driving.

Criminal Justice Minister Fiona Mactaggart said: "All too often, families who have lost loved ones because of a careless driver have seen the offender getting no more than a fine. That does not reflect the serious impact of the driving on their lives.

"That's why the government is proposing these new offences with tough penalties to deal with bad driving. I believe they strike the right balance between the level of criminal fault on the part of the bad driver and the devastation that their actions can cause.

"We're responding to the concerns of families, victims, road safety groups and the police who responded to our consultation by calling for measures to deal with careless driving that reflect the impact it can have. That's why we're creating a tougher legal framework to deal with bad driving."

The Road Safety Bill was introduced in House of Lords on 24 May 2005 and has just completed House of Lords Committee stage.

The Bill comprises a wide range of measures in support of the government's road safety target of reducing deaths and serious injuries by 2010.

(SP/KMcA)

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